2017 Yamaha YZ450F Review
The 2017 Yamaha YZ450F is in its fourth year of the company’s newest generation design. While the previous-year model received a number of changes, the 2017 motorcycle gets fewer updates—the most important being the rubber.
The revisions include new Dunlop MX3S soft/intermediate terrain tires, new rear brake rotor material, and a recessed area for the Dzus fasteners that secure the airbox in place. Each of the changes serves a purpose, as the new Dunlop MX3S soft/intermediate terrain tires replace the Dunlop Geomax MX52 intermediate/hard terrain knobbies.
Meanwhile, the purpose of the new metal used in the rear rotor prevents warping when the material reaches high temperatures due to extremely hard use in competition. Lastly, the recessed Dzus fasteners are designed to avoid getting caught on the rider’s pants.
Beginning with the engine, the 2017 YZ450F engine starts fairly easily in neutral, whether it’s hot or cold—although, it does demand a strong, thorough kick. The powerband on the YZ450F can be likened to a rocket ship. It’s strong off the bottom and packs a punch in the mid-range and top end. As a result, one quick twist of the throttle gets the YZ450F moving in a hurry.
When modulated and ridden with some discretion, the power is very manageable and effective. At the same time, the engine’s incredible power comes in handy when you need it. For example, I could make a small mistake before a large jump and still easily clear it, as the power is on-tap when needed. The YZ450F is a great engine for racers of all abilities, as it can be lugged in a higher gear or revved to the moon with little shifting necessary.
A nice compliment to the YZ450F’s powerful engine is the accessory GYTR Power Tuner. The device doesn’t coax more power out of the four-valve rearwards slanted DOHC engine, but it does offer the ability to modify the power curve in any one chosen range. The device is very easy to use at the track or in the shop.
The Kayaba Speed-Sensitive System (SSS) fork is the king of the class. In fact, it is the best fork fitted to a stock motocross motorcycle, regardless of engine size or brand. The spring fork absorbs anything you throw at it–big or small.
There were times where I would flat-land and expect to be jolted, but the Kayaba fork soaked it up unbelievably well and I didn’t feel a thing. At the same time, the fork makes navigating braking bumps and acceleration chop feel nearly nonexistent. A click stiffer or softer is fairly noticeable, and allows for plenty of adjustment for riders of varying skill levels.
The only maintenance required is to occasionally let built-up air out using the flathead screws on top of each fork leg. This releases the air pressure that naturally builds up in the fork legs and ensures consistent ride quality from one moto to the next. Yamaha’s decision to keep the incredible Kayaba SSS fork on the YZ450F over the years is something that all riders can appreciate every time a leg is swung over the motorcycle.
The Kayaba shock compliments the amazing SSS fork. The linkage-assisted shock offers a progressive ride quality and settles well in corners once correct rider sag is set. I set my sag to 110mm, which worked to provide perfect chassis balance. The shock collar and lock nut are easily adjusted with a hammer and large screwdriver. Additionally, the shock is easy to access thanks to Yamaha’s placement of the airbox at the front of the chassis.
In the handling department, the 2017 Yamaha YZ450F is very stable at speed. The high level of stability is especially noticeable when attacking whoops and rollers. The bike stays planted and does not have the tendency to swap from side-to-side.
Cornering effectively on the 2017 YZ450F requires a slightly modified technique. I had to take some extra time when entering corners, especially tight and/or rough ones, to ensure I could lean the bike over properly and flow through it.
Additionally, my cornering ability on the bike improved when I sat very far forward on the seat. If my weight was too far back, the front end sometimes wanted to push, especially in flatter corners. Exiting turns felt very natural as the bike easily stood back up and I was able to focus on attacking the next obstacle.
Another modification that helps the YZ450F in this area is sliding the fork legs up in the triple clamps to help the front end bite the ground morel. With a bit of extra attention to positioning myself further forward on the seat when cornering and moving the triple clamps up in the forks, the Yamaha’s cornering ability improved significantly.
When jumping, the YZ450F feels very stable in the air. I could hit a jump with a kicker or unusual lip and the bike never kicked out or did anything out of the ordinary. On the other hand, the bike seems to be a little bit more difficult to scrub and whip than some other 450cc machines I’ve ridden. It’s not by much, though, and this is a trade-off for stability both in the air and on the ground. Because it has the tendency to want to stay straight up, correcting the bike in the air is actually very easy.
The brakes on the 2017 YZ450F do a good job of bringing the fast machine to a quick stop. The 270mm front rotor and 245mm rear rotor offer progressive braking performance and do not succumb to fading under excessive use.
Clutch pull on the YZ450F is noticeably easier than other 450 motocross machines, yet it does an excellent job of resisting fade during a long moto. I have not had to slip it or overuse the clutch due to how wide the 450’s powerband is.
I would like to change is the shape of the lever, however. It has a gradual bend, but no definitive place to pull it in. Thankfully, levers and clutch perches are an easy item to replace and relatively inexpensive.
Even though I’m over six-feet tall, the bar bend is a little higher than I would prefer—personal choice, of course. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but I would opt for a lower rise bar bend if this were my personal bike. The grips are surprisingly soft, especially for a stock grips, yet they are durable.
The Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires that come stock on the 2017 YZ450F work well in a variety of conditions, and excel in deeply ripped dirt. The MX3S tires wear down a bit quicker than harder terrain tires when used on hard pack conditions, but still offer plenty of traction when worn. These are the tires most racers who use Dunlops will opt to use, so Yamaha’s switch to them saves new owners the chore of changing tires immediately after purchasing their new YZ450Fs.
The recessed Dzus fasteners holding the airbox intact are now out of the way of rider’s pants as a result of Yamaha’s decision to recess them into the plastic. I never had a problem with the previous year models with non-recessed fasteners, so this was not an important change for me.
When trying to grab onto the fasteners to remove the top of the airbox, they can be a little more difficult to grab, but gently prying them up with a small flathead screwdriver helps to access them quickly. Once that is done, removing and reinstalling the Dzus fasteners is quick and easy. Therefore, swapping air filters can be done in an efficient matter as well.
Thanks to the Yamaha’s airbox and air filter being placed up high in the front; the air filter does not get dirty as quickly as some of the other brands, which is a very nice attribute, especially for racers who do not like changing (and cleaning) air filters frequently!
Oil changes are on the 2017 YZ450F are quick and easy. All that is needed is a 12mm wrench to access the bolt located on the bottom of the engine. The bolt faces rearward, making it easy to access and reinstall after draining.
Installing a new oil filter requires an 8mm wrench to remove the two bolts located on the right side of the engine in front of the clutch cover. To refill the YZ450F with oil, the filler cap can be removed by hand and is located on top of the ignition cover.
Riders of all skills levels will enjoy riding the 2017 Yamaha YZ450F. The bike’s linear powerband is controllable for lower skill level riders. At the same time, the motorcycle’s mid-range and top end power offer plenty of on-tap power so that intermediate and pro level riders can get the most out of the Yamaha machine. Additionally, the power characteristics of the engine can be changed via the use of the GYTR power Tuner. Both the Kayaba SSS front forks and rear shock are user friendly and can be adjusted to riders of all different skill levels.
The refinements made to the 2017 Yamaha YZ450F over the years have made it well known for its fantastic engine, unbeatable suspension, and reliability. The majority of riders of all skill levels could pick up a 2017 Yamaha YZ450F, set the sag, take it to the track, and race it with no aftermarket modifications.
The 2017 Yamaha YZ450F is an ideal weapon of choice for a rider who is looking for a bike with fantastic suspension, a powerful engine, and will be reliable in the long-run.
Photography by Don Williams at Milestone MX
- Helmet: Shoei VFX-W Hectic TC-5
- Goggles: Oakley Prizm MX
- Neck Brace: Alpinestars BNS Tech Carbon
- Chest Protector: Leatt Chest Protector Lite
- Jersey + Pants: Alpinestars Limited Edition Torch Techstar Factory
- Gloves: Alpinestars Limited Edition Torch Radar 2
- Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10
2017 Yamaha YZ450F Specs:
- Engine: 449.7cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke w/ 4 titanium valves
- Bore x stroke: 97.0 x 60.8mm
- Compression ratio: 12.5:1
- Fueling: Yamaha Fuel Injection, Keihin 44mm TCI
- Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
- Transmission: Constant-mesh 5-speed; multiplate wet clutch
- Front suspension: KYB Speed-Sensitive System, inverted fork, fully adjustable, with 12.2″ travel
- Rear suspesion: KYB fully adjustable single shock w/ 12.4″ travel
- Brakes Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 270mm
- Brakes Rear: Hydraulic single disc brake, 245mm
- Front tire: Dunlop Geomax MX3S, 80/100-21
- Rear tire: Dunlop Geomax MX3S, 120/80-19
- Seat height: 38.0 inches
- Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
- Ground clearance: 13.0 inches
- Fuel capacity: 2.0 gallons
- Wet weight: 247 pounds
2017 Yamaha YZ450F Colors:
- Team Yamaha Blue/White
2017 Yamaha YZ450F Price:
- $8699 MSRP